Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Oscars: Predictions, Thoughts, and Gripes

I don't think I have to preface it anymore by saying I'm a giant nerd, but the Academy Awards are my Superbowl, nomination day is like Christmas morning, and Oscar Season is my favorite time of year. Well that time of the year has come and after watching the early morning announcement today, I couldn't be happier with the nominations and only have a few complaints.

Best Picture
In a field of 10 films again, 9 stand out as great films (sorry Inception). I was pleased to see a few films nominated which I had not expected such as Winter's Bone, 127 Hours, The Kids are All Right, and True Grit. There were some films such as The Town, Shutter Island, and Ghost Writer that I wish could have gotten nods, but when the majority of films in the field are great, there isn't much room to complain. As far as the race goes, I do agree that like last year this is a two picture race between The King's Speech and The Social Network. I like the Social Network's chances. It is a relevant, excellent film that has been well promoted for awards. The King's Speech is excellent as well and a little warmer and its chances are helped by the fact that it won the Producers Guild Award which is usually a good indicator. Still I think I am going to go with The Social Network
Will Win: The Social Network
Should Win: The King's Speech

Best Director
I was extremely pleased with this category except for the fact that David O. Russell was nominated in a spot which I would have given to Danny Boyle who made a compelling movie out of one that  shouldn't have been quite so. I loved how the Coens were given the slot that was probably reserved for Christopher Nolan. Also, Darren Arronofsky got his overdue nomination. As far as predictions, this is David Fincher's year and deservedly so. He is a masterfully visual director and The Social Network was great.
Will Win: David Fincher, The Social Network
Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor
A typically strong category again doesn't disappoint. Everyone seemed to know who four of the nominees were and were wondering whom that fifth slot would go to. Surprisingly, the Academy gave it to Javier Bardem for the foreign film Biutiful which I (and many others so far) have not yet seen. Ryan Gosling seems to be the most notable actor to be overlooked for his great work in Blue Valentine but Bardem is a fine actor and I'm sure he'll prove his nod deserved. Of the other nominees, they are stellar. I think its interesting that James Franco is up and also cohosting. Jeff Bridges, last year's winner, deservedly got a nod. Jesse Eisenberg was so great as the motormouth and somewhat aloof Mark Zuckerberg yet the award will go to Colin Firth, for his incredible performance as George VI in The King's Speech. It is the performance of the year.
Will Win: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Should Win: Colin Firth, The King's Speech

Best Actress
Don't take this the wrong way but this category often seems week, with undeserving ingénues getting nominated. This year is an exception, and the category is the strongest I've seen it. To start, veterans like Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening earn their spot with stellar work but it is a pleasure to see the younger actresses, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michelle Williams--all exceptional in heartbreaking roles--get nominated. I think it was wise to not nominate Julianne Moore (it will help Bening's chances) and I would have made a push in the supporting actress category (it is too bad she didn't get a nod at all though). So the race will come down to Bening and Portman. Portman's role was grueling and she was great but I'd like to see Bening win. She was excellent as the gay mother trying to keep her family together and deserves recognition after a long career.
Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Should Win: Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right

Best Supporting Actor
My favorite category continues to not disappoint. Five actors, five fine performances. I was most pleased with the nomination of Deadwood alum John Hawkes for his work in Winter's Bone. Hawkes has been a fine character actor in film and television, but his performance was virtually unnoticed until this morning. Jeremy Renner was great as the needy drug-addled psychopath in The Town and Mark Ruffalo was fun (and more) as the laid back donor in The Kids are All Right. The race does come down two commanding performances: Christian Bale in The Fighter and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech. The performances are so fine, Christian Bale acting outside of himself and Rush at the top of his game as usual, that I'm going to call it a draw for my preference.
Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Should Win: tie: Christian Bale, The Fighter and Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress
In what is usually another fun category, this year it is surprisingly weak. Melissa Leo is the favorite (I think that'll change) but her performance as Mark Wahlberg's mom in The Fighter didn't strike me as award worthy. Amy Adam's work as the love interest in that film was good and she may just as well walk away with the statue. Hailee Steinfeld's work in True Grit was great considering the difficulty of the dialogue. I'm just a little hesitant about nominating kids for awards. Jacki Weaver chewed the scenery, hammed it up and should not have been nominated for Animal Kingdom (I'm surprised such an Australian film got a nod). Finally, there is Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech and this is the only really great performance in the category as she showed range in a small roll as the supportive Queen Mother and wife of George VI.
Will Win: Amy Adams, The Fighter
Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech

So there you have it. The show is February 27th @ 7PM EST with hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Click here for a complete list of nominees. Stay tuned for my Oscar contest which I should post within the week.